Second chances and new beginnings

SIDNEY — For many who are homeless, a feeling of hopelessness is often a familiar feeling which can, in many cases, lead to a potentially harmful cycle that can be difficult to break, particularly when individuals experience mental illness, poverty, and limited access to housing and resources.

The mission of the Mercy Mission House Emergency Shelter is to provide an environment that allows residents to not only ask for help but to receive the resources they need to be successful.

Along with the other agencies present on campus with MMH, including the Alpha Community Center and Bridges Community Action Partnership, the goal is to provide greater accessibility to the different resources available with the goal of empowering each individual to reach for their potential and become a self-sustaining member of society.

A standardized set of rules guides each resident’s journey through their time at the Mercy Mission House, with specific goals and benchmarks set to enable them to achieve independence and the ability to support themselves in their own housing situations.

“We have so many success stories that make this job so rewarding,” said Amanda Hilgefort, Mercy Mission House director. “So many of our residents have a determined spirit, patience, and a desire to work hard toward their goals, and we strive to give them the building blocks they need to pave the road toward a better future.”

The Mercy Mission House has helped 20 individuals and 4 families find permanent housing in the community since opening in February.

“We are so proud of the residents who have come through our program and achieved permanent housing,” said Hilgefort. “With each success story, we find new ways to make our program better. As a team and as a community, we continue to utilize the resources of Shelby County to make our program better and increase the resources we can connect our residents with, we are so grateful that we are able to serve the people of Shelby County in this way.”

Hilgefort cited an example of one resident in particular, a United States Marine Corps veteran who wishes to remain anonymous, has been working diligently to find an apartment since his arrival at MMH. With the current housing availability in Shelby County, it can often take months to find an available apartment and it’s easy to become discouraged. However, this resident continued to maintain a positive attitude throughout his time at MMH. After much persistence, he has finally found an apartment and plans to move in soon.

He was asked a few questions about his background and his time at the Mercy Mission House.

What led you to experience homelessness? I was living with my mother and due to her health issues and other circumstances, I was helping with bills. At that time in my life, I didn’t have a lot of financial freedom. One day my mom and I had a disagreement. Ultimately, I had to find another place to stay. I wish I could’ve prepared more to be on my own but it’s difficult. Originally, I had a really good job in Troy, but I was cut down from 44 hours to 12 hours a week because of COVID and I barely made any money after that. It seems like all this bad luck hit me all at once and suddenly I was homeless.

How do you stay determined and steadfast during hard times? My faith is my number one way to stay grounded. I try to stay positive and upbeat every day. My dad always said, “Nothing negative comes from trying to be positive but nothing positive comes from being negative.” Bad things happen but I think it’s all about how you respond. The Marine Corps taught me a lot about how I want to live my life and I try to stick by those principles.

What is your advice to people who are experiencing homelessness? There are so many resources for you. Reach out and see what can be offered to you. If you want a better future, you can make it happen! You just have to be willing to be patient and stay consistent.

What are your dreams and goals for the future? I want to work hard and be self-sufficient. I am excited to live comfortably and have a place of my own.

In the case of this veteran, many community organizations aided during his time in shelter, including Bridges Community Action Partnership which assisted with housing assistance and finding an available apartment. Shelby County Veterans Services assisted with the individual’s veteran affairs as well as daily transportation to work.

Funding from the Community Foundation and other funding sources also enabled the Mercy Mission House to hire a Resident Manager to further assist with necessary applications, assistance with transportation, and one-on-one residential interaction to ensure all needs were being met. This teamwork of multiple agencies both on the Mercy Mission House campus and in the community allowed the Mercy Mission House to help this veteran and many others like him find permanent housing within the community.

For more information about the Mercy Mission House or how you can support their ongoing mission in the Shelby County community, visit the website,